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A Bigger Bite of the Big Apple

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This past weekend was an incredible one, spent largely in New York City. I decided to take my mom to the city for an overnight trip for Mothers’ Day, and it was a really great trip. We got to see parts of NYC that we’d never seen before and do lots of new things, and I’ve definitely got a lot of great memories out of this one.

As usual, our mode of transportation was Megabus. This trip marked the first time (out of five times) that the bus from Buffalo to NYC left on time. It’s usually late, as it comes from Toronto and gets held up at the border. But we left on time and we managed to grab the last pair of seats together. It was an alright bus ride – my favorite part was driving through the Catskills! – and we rolled into Manhattan around noon on Friday.

Our standard first stop was lunch at Panera Bread. After that, we walked over to 10th and 28th and picked up The High Line. This was something I’d read about on various tourist sites and wanted to check it out for myself; it’s pretty neat! Basically, they’ve taken this old elevated railroad track and converted it into greenspace. There’s loads of plants growing in the old railroad track and around it, and there’s benches and overlooks and it’s just a very nice space. It’s really neat to be there and have the contrast of all these tall buildings around you, a railroad track at your feet and yet you’re surrounded by green. I loved it, and I’d definitely suggest anyone check it out. We only walked it for about five blocks, but someday I’d love to go back and check out more.

Once we exited The High Line, we hopped the subway (1) to South Ferry. This was my first time taking the NYC subway, and it was fairly easy. I pride myself on being public transit-savvy, and this was no different. We got off at the last stop and got on the Staten Island Ferry! This is a FREE ferry that takes you from Manhattan to Staten Island and back. It’s a commuter ferry, so lots of people use it to get to work/home/etc. but it’s a great way to see the Statue of Liberty for free. I know there’s plenty of boats that take you right to Ellis Island and up the Statue, but this was FREE, and I got to see the Statue on both trips, and I enjoyed it.

From there, we took the subway up to Times Square and checked into our hotel, the Crowne Plaza Manhattan Times Square. It was a nice hotel, the room was nice and you can’t beat the location, right above the Hershey Store in Times Square. I always say that a hotel is great, but in the end, it’s just a place to sleep; if you’re spending more time there than you are out doing things, you’re doing a vacation the wrong way. Get out, explore, adventure, live!

I ended up waiting in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square and was eventually rewarded with 50 percent off orchestra seats to Jersey Boys at the August Wilson Theater! Surprisingly, the line moved fast – I was out after 30ish minutes. And what a deal!

Mom and I eventually shopped around Times Square, and also found a grocery store within blocks of our hotel. We went to dinner at TGI Friday’s and sooner or later, headed out for Jersey Boys. What a spectacular show! I have nothing but great things to say about it. We’d actually seen Jersey Boys twice before, both times in Buffalo back at Shea’s in 2011. It was great to see it again, and on Broadway this time!

That’s about it for Friday. Saturday was a new day, with lots more exploring to be done.

After grabbing breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, we relaxed in the hotel before checking out. We ended up walking to Central Park, which wasn’t a far trek at all and it ended up being a super nice day out. The temperature was perfect, albeit maybe a little too sunny for my taste. We walked around part of the park….. from Strawberry Fields to the Lake, to the Conservatory Water, Bethesda Temple, the Alice in Wonderland statue…. I think I could honestly spend an entire day just at the park, there’s so much to see there.

Tip: If you can, download the Central Park app. It comes in handy!

We then walked down 5th Avenue (Madison! Mad Men!) and saw part of the Central Park Zoo before stopping at FAO Schwarz. What a place for kids and adults alike! After that, Mom and I continued just walking around….. stopping at the LOVE Sculpture, the NHL Store, Radio City Music Hall (where the NFL draft was being held) and the Rockefeller Center.

Our eventual plan was a bus tour I had booked for 5:30 p.m. that was going to take us around Little Italy, Chinatown, the Brooklyn Bridge, etc. Well…. sometimes things don’t work out. The bus never came, and I never got a cancellation email or anything, and I was (understandably) very, very frustrated and angry at that. But I couldn’t let it ruin the rest of my trip, could I? No. The unfortunate thing is that it left this huge time gap where I had nothing planned, but we managed to figure it out okay. LivingSocial eventually gave me a refund for the bus tour I’d booked, so all in all, I guess it’s okay.

We had dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s, shopped around Times Square, went back to that grocery store near our hotel…. then just kept walking around. I know a lot of people will say “What? You went to chain restaurants only?” But look – I’m picky about my food. Very picky. So I’d rather go to a chain restaurant where I know the quality of service and the food is going to be what I expect. I like the idea that I can order the same thing I’d order back home and get the exact same meal in front of me despite being 400 miles away. I like the idea that there’s the standard to be held up to, and knowing there’s a corporate office somewhere I could take my complaint to if things don’t match up. And in the end, I’m still eating dinner IN TIMES SQUARE, so really, does it matter what the restaurant is?

After dinner, we walked around more and eventually came across a cute little outdoor market where each vendor had a little garage to themselves and it was just on a street corner. I thought it was a neat concept. Eventually, we found our way to the Megabus stop and headed back to Buffalo after another successful trip to New York City.

This trip marked a lot of firsts. Our first overnight stay in NYC; first time seeing the Statue of Liberty and the High Line, first time taking the NYC subway and the Staten Island Ferry, first time seeing Jersey Boys on Broadway, first time waiting in the TKTS line at Times Square; first time walking around Central Park (though I went briefly in February at night, this was my first daytime trip). First time at FAO Schwarz and seeing Madison Avenue (and also the St. Regis, another Mad Men nerd moment for me). I’m incredibly happy with this trip and I can’t wait to eventually head back to NYC again.

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